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Troy Van Beek
Name: Troy Van Beek
MUM Degree: BS, Sustainable Living, 2009
Renewable Energy Expert and Business Owner
Company: Ideal Energy, Inc., Fairfield, Iowa
Early Career: U.S. Navy SEAL (9 years); personal security expert, Mideast and Africa
Career Starter Project: Helped create the Strategic Go Green Plan for Fairfield
Career Surprise: Being interviewed by Oprah on TV

As a U.S. Navy SEAL and paramilitary security specialist, Troy Van Beek has been to some of the most dangerous places on the planet. He was lead sniper on the president of Afghanistan’s security team. He rode on hostile roads notorious for car bombs and IEDs — commonplace when working in the Middle East. “Ninety miles an hour with your hair on fire was basically how we lived,” he says. He was good at it.

But he’d always had a strain of the seeker in him, and after his tour of duty ended Troy was drawn to investigate his spiritual side. Now a civilian back in the States, he wanted to find that kind of path.

“I Googled ‘enlightenment’ and the town of Fairfield kept coming up,” he says. That piqued his curiosity, so on a trip to visit family in Michigan, he detoured south to Fairfield, home of Maharishi University of Management. “It was an amazing place,” he recalls. “It was filled with people who were in conversation about their spirituality. I was immediately taken by it.”

Troy enrolled at MUM in the BS program in sustainability. He met Amy Greenfield, an eco-architectural designer who would become his girlfriend. She had been working tirelessly with others in Fairfield to develop an off-the-grid, sustainable community out on 185th street. He picked up on her passion for sustainable technologies and Vastu, which matched up well with his own interests and aspirations.

Troy had always wanted to make world a better place, even as a soldier where he fought for others’ freedom. MUM helped bring that dream into fruition. “Finding MUM was a blessing,” he says — even though, at first, acclimating to being on the peaceful campus was “akin to walking on the moon in comparison to the life I lived for 12 years.”

At MUM he deepened his spirituality through the practice of TM and immersed himself his sustainability studies. The grip of the past began to ease up. “MUM gave me the ability to defrag my brain and body,” he says. “From that I’ve been able to take in a whole new world of possibilities.”

In 2009 Troy founded Ideal Energy to bring wind and solar power technology to corporate and government clients in Iowa and beyond, creating a way to run their businesses on low cost, clean energy. Troy brings together teams of engineers, building performance specialists, security professionals, social change experts, renewable energy consultants, and architects (many of them MUM grads) to work on projects that often involve installing massive wind turbines and vast arrays of solar panels.

Once a warrior on the battlefield, Troy looked within and chose a different direction. “If I wanted to see positive change,” he says, “I knew I had to embody it myself.”

Troy and Amy married in 2012 and live in a beautiful cottage in Abundance Ecovillage, Fairfield's thriving sustainability community. The village generates all of its electricity from solar and wind power, uses sustainable materials, and has a small environmental footprint.

Recently, Troy's company Ideal Energy completed a breakthrough project, installing a 54,000 watt solar panel at Sky Factory, a producer of virtual skylights and window panels (see video below). The solar panel meets all of the company’s power needs. “It’s the first light manufacturing plant in the state to be net-zero [needing no outside power],” says Troy. “It’s waking people up that this can actually happen.”

Related Links:

Troy Interviewed on Oprah's Next Chapter:

Heartland business becomes the first entirely solar-powered company in Iowa (article)

Thank you to Oprah's Next Chapter and Fairfield's KRUU for some quotes and photos

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